Moscow, July 14, 2021
Russia is rejecting the European Court of Human Rights’ (ECHR) call to legalize gay marriage as it fundamentally contradicts the federal constitution.
Having heard the complaints of three gay couples from Moscow and the Lipetsk Province, the ECHR stated in its decision published yesterday that the prohibition on same-sex marriage violates the private and family life rights provided for by the European Convention on Human Rights.
“As regards same-sex couples, the Court has already held that they are just as capable as different-sex couples of entering into committed relationships. They are in a relevantly similar situation to a different-sex couple as regards their need for formal acknowledgment and protection of their relationship,” the decision reads (§ 48).
While the Court noted that it can’t impose a direct requirement to recognize gay marriages, it believes the state needs to compromise on the issue and find the most suitable form of registration of same-sex couples, taking into account the social and cultural context. Granting minorities official recognition of their status in a form other than marriage would not contradict the traditional understanding of marriage prevailing in Russia, the Court argues.
Last June, Russians overwhelmingly voted for a set of constitutional amendments that included the definition of marriage as the union of a man and a woman, thus strengthening the existing prohibition on gay marriages and civil unions.
Responding to the decision, State Duma Speaker Vyacheslav Volodin called the ECHR judges incompetent and called on them to resign.
“When making such decisions, the ECHR judges should know the national legislation of the country to which it applies… In this matter, the judges showed a lack of qualifications, having made, in fact, an illegal decision that contradicts national legislation,” Volodin wrote on his Тelegram channel.
“It would be right for them, in this regard, to resign,” the Speaker stated.
He also noted that the Russian constitution specifies that if ECHR decisions are adopted on the basis of international treaties that contradict the constitution, they don’t have to be carried out in Russia.
And as Mikhail Emelyanov, the First Deputy Chairman of the State Duma Committee on State Construction and Legislation, told Interfax-Religion, Russia will not be taking the ECHR’s recommendation.
“The Europeans are free to interpret the Convention as they want. But this practice shouldn’t be transferred to Russian soil,” he commented.
“This is another testimony that Russia and Europe are diverging further and further, and the European Council is becoming a completely unnecessary organization for Russia,” the Deputy added.
In turn, Duma Deputy Speaker and head of the Russian delegation to the Parliamentary Assembly of the European Council, Peter Tolstoy dismissed the ECHR’s decision as a political ploy to put pressure on Russian legislators.